Posts Tagged ‘Insects’

Moth Trap

May 18, 2018

I put the trap in the polytunnel last night in an attempt to frustrate the robin who has noticed where I normally put it. By the time I got to it this morning it was quite warm in there so I don’t know how many moths had already disappeared, but most were not in the trap but on the walls of the polytunnel and pretty lively, creating something of a photographic challenge. One is still to be identified as it is still to be found lurking somewhere in the conservatory – perhaps at dusk?

I recorded 11, a twelfth being a bit too worn to be sure, including three Early Thorn and a Clouded Border:

Later: The thirteenth moth duly emerged and turned out to be a Brown Silver-line:


Brown Silver-line

Also, my annual two-banded longhorn beetle (Rhagium bifasciatum) turned up on the garage wall. Readers with long memories will remember that I see one of these every yar at almost exactly the same date. I mustn’t look around the garden too carefully lest I find a second and spoil my run….


Lorgill, Creag a’ Bhealaich-airigh & Ben Corkeval

May 18, 2018

In the winter there is not so much to write about here. Now there is so much going on I struggle to find time for the blog… Anyway, Wednesday saw me parking at Ramasaig and visiting the places mentioned in the title. Tetrad NG14W had 16 previous records yet contains a botanically rich stretch of the River Lorgill. That figure is now at 137. There were lot of nice things like Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid) and Polystichum aculeatum (Hard Shield-fern) along the river and up on Creag a’ Bhealaich-airigh masses of flowering Silene acaulis (Moss Campion)


Silene acaulis (Moss Campion)

and my first flowering Anthyllis vulneraria (Kidney Vetch) of the year:


Anthyllis vulneraria (Kidney Vetch)

I went on to Ben Corkeval which is in tetrad NG14X with only 4 previous records. Cutting across a corner of it, I have upped this to 56 but it is never going to be scored as species-rich. I was after three montane plants from previous records at or near the summit: Diphasiastrum alpinum (Alpine Clubmoss), Salix herbacea (Dwarf Willow) and Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Cowberry) but I only found the last. There really doen’t look to be any suitable habitat these days for Salix herbacea.

Among a range of interesting insects – they really are on the move now – was the caddis fly Philopotamus montanus in large numbers along the burns.


Philopotamus montanus


May 8, 2018

The moth trap last night attracted at least 24 moths, I say “at least” because when I went to it this morning I saw a robin take one off the wall. My favourite of today’s selection is the Streamer:



I also had a Black Sexton Beetle (Nicrophorus humator). I normally get Nicrophorus investigator, one of the ones with orange bands. NBN has no Raasay records for N. humator but Richard Moore reported it here “sporadically since 1999”. This one was a bit lively for a well-focused photo.


Nicrophorus humator

Bornesketaig and Fiskavaig

May 7, 2018

I have been chasing up records of plants that are known in particular 10km squares but have not been see there since before 2000. Near Bornesketaig I was after Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale Cress) for NG37 but failed. However, I succeeded with Eriophorum vaginatum (Hare’s-tail Cottongrass) and Phalaris arundinacea (Reed Canary-grass). There really wasn’t a lot of suitable habitat for the former but the latter is all over the place at Camas Mòr – I must have just left it off the list on my previous visit.

Today I went after Nymphaea alba (White Water-lily) for NG33 near Fiskavaig. That was easy enough given previous record details and I was pleased to add Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry) as new to NG33.

Two species of orchid were in flower:

as was Lathyrus linifolius (Bitter-vetch):


Lathyrus linifolius (Bitter-vetch)

There were several lots of Heath Navel (Lichenomphalia umbellifera), one Palmate Newt in a puddle and lots of these small flies on the Ficaria verna subsp. fertilis (Lesser Celandine).


A Round Tour

April 27, 2018

Today I started at Caroy to see what Colin had found outside his garden. It turned out to be Allium paradoxum (Few-flowered Garlic), new to the vice-county and presumably escaped from his garden more than ten years ago before he took ownership.


Allium paradoxum – mixture of bulbils and flowers +triangular stem

Then I went to acquire a specimen of Utricularia stygia (Nordic Bladderwort) for tomorrow’s meeting. This makes the earliest record ever in VC104 for any Utricularia and in fairness if I had not known exactly where to look I would never have spotted it at this nascent stage.

At Dunvegan I checked a couple of things from the Skye Nature Group excursion there. The Erophila by the church was the same as the one up the hill, E. verna s.s. What we thought likely to be Lonicera nitida (Wilson’s Honeysuckle) looks all the more likely now it is near flowering with flower buds in pairs in the leaf axils:


Lonicera nitida

A visit to the Sawmill Burn allowed me to re-find Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry), the first record for NG24 since 1993. I walked a long way up the burn and back again before spotting it just by the road – but made other worthwhile records during my travels.

Finally I went to Romesdal Mill


Romesdal Mill

principally to re-find Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale Cress) which hadn’t been recorded in NG45 for 23 years and not at that site since 1971.  These things do tend to still be there through the decades.


Arabidopsis thaliana

There were also quite a few of these polymorphic bumblebee mimics, Eristalis intricaria on Caltha palustris (Marsh-marigold) flowers:


Eristalis intricaria


April 22, 2018

Yesterday I saw my first Staphylinus erythropterus of the year, a Rove Beetle that I see fairly frequently on Raasay and Skye.

Staphylinus erythropterus

Staphylinus erythropterus

Not much of a picture – it was very unobliging and disappeared into the moss.  However, it does show the yellowish area between the wing cases that distinguishes it from others of this genus.

Last night’s moth trap caught 29 moths including two Heralds and one Double-striped Pug.

SNG in Dunvegan Woods

April 15, 2018

Skye Nature Group walked the Two Churches Walk at Dunvegan on Wednesday. We recorded various invertebrates – molluscs, insects, arachnids, myriapods – plus some birds, a frog plus many tadpoles and of course I made plant lists.

Gerris costae

The pondskater Gerris costae       Image S. Gibson

The route took us through two tetrads and we added 15 taxa to the northern one, NG24P, and 44 to the less well recorded southern one, NG24N.

The woods have various planted shrubs such as Olearia macrodonta (New Zealand Holly) and Griselinia littoralis (New Zealand Broadleaf), the latter making the first record in the wild in VC104.

Griselinia littoralis

Griselinia littoralis

Something we thought might be a Cotoneaster has leaves similar in shape to C. salicifolius (Willow-leaved Cotoneaster) but they are larger than reported in the literature and lacking a tomentose underside – both of which might be effects of shading. Once identified, the leafspot fungus will probably be straightforward! I shall have to go back in the summer – as I will to check putative Ulex minor (Dwarf Gorse) and Lonicera nitida (Wilson’s Honeysuckle).

Cotoneaster sp. maybe

Cotoneaster sp. maybe

Dwarf Gorse is thought always to be an introduction in Scotland where it is sometimes planted as an ornamental and can escape. Given the number of other planted/naturalised plants in this area, that would seem likely. It is not known from the NW Highlands or any of the islands and so I want to see it in flower before recording it. Well done Seth for spotting it!

Oisgill and Elsewhere

April 1, 2018

On Friday Seth, Tony and I went to Oisgill so that I could show them Ribes spicatum (Downy Currant) and Saxifraga oppositifolia (Purple Saxifrage). They had to take my word that the Ribes is this species as it has yet to sprout any leaves let alone flowers, but there is a good population of over 60 plants there.

Ribes spicatum

Ribes spicatum (Downy Currant)

The saxifrage, however, was flowering well as expected at this time of year.

Saxifraga oppositifolia

Saxifraga oppositifolia (Purple Saxifrage)

We added eight taxa to the tetrad plant list, though two of these were the result of subspecies recording, captured some ants and spotted other invertebrates before moving on Abhainn an Lòin Mhòir near Dunvegan.  Here we added 12 to the tetrad plant list – the result of my not having recorded along the river gorge before – and did well for stoneflies, river limpets and native flatworms. Seth tells me that a large stonefly that had to be collected from my face was Perlodes mortoni, a recently split endemic (previously lumped with the Continental P. microcephalus).

After that, as a special treat,  I took them to my favourite quarry, east of Dunvegan where material from Dunvegan Castle gardens has been dumped years ago, plus an exciting collection of rusting white goods. Here apart from the unusual plants I have reported before, we spotted a New Zealand Flatworm (Arthurdendyus triangulatus), Field Vole (Microtus agrestis), Palmate Newt (Lissotriton helveticus), Water Cricket (Velia caprai) and Garden Snails (Cornu aspersum)

Meanwhile back on the Ranch

March 27, 2018

Seth has helped me identify our very common millipede in the garden as Tachypodoiulus niger, known as the white-legged snake millipede or, more boringly, the black millipede.

Tachypodoiulus niger

A crane fly that seems to have emerged very early may be Tipula subnodicornis but it will need to be examined more closely in due course. Unfortunately it is a female which will not make identification any easier. Later: Turns out to be Tipula rufina.


Tipula rufina

Despite having put the moth trap out several times the haul has been limited to these three species so far:

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No doubt that is about to change.

A Mixed Bag

March 11, 2018

It is still a bit early for much botany but here are a few other items. This noctuid moth larva was in the greenhouse. They are difficult and I didn’t get a photo of the key bits. By the time I went back for another go, it had gone.

moth larva 180307 (2)

Possible Barred Chestnut Larva

A curious, perhaps exotic piece of tree that arrived on the shore:


or perhaps just strangely weathered.  Nearby was this fossil showing a small scallop-like impression on top of the ammonite:


Fossils on the shore